Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll have heard of Covid-19. Also referred to as the Corona Virus. It’s been rapidly sweeping the globe, and now shit seems to be getting real here in the UK too. Social and general media are full of stories telling us we’ll need to be self isolating soon. Although nobody seems to know how long for. Periods of between 7 days and 4 months are being wildly thrown around at the moment, which isn’t exactly helping when thinking about how to fill the time when self isolating with children!
At the moment, the majority of UK schools remain open. Although it seems to be a matter of time before we’re all placed in lockdown.
Last year, Emily had her tonsils and adenoids removed, and we had to self isolate for 14 days afterwards. It wasn’t fun, but it taught me a lot. So I thought I’d share my tips for self isolating with you.
What is self isolating?
Firstly, it would be helpful to know what self isolating means.
Basically, it means physically cutting yourself off from the rest of the world. No walks to the shop, no work, no school, no meeting up with friends in public places. No public transport or visitors to your house.
Sounds great doesn’t it 🙄 ?
You can have deliveries, but they need to be left on your doorstep so there is no contact with whoever is delivering. Whether that’s a friend, family member or delivery person.
Who needs to self isolate?
Current advice is:
Anyone with a new cough and/or a temperature over 37.8°c needs to self isolate at home for 7 days.
Anyone who has travelled to or from an infected area or who has had close contact* with an infected person needs to self isolate at home for 14 days.
*close contact is described as spending 15 minutes within 2m (6ft) of someone with the virus or having face-face contact with someone with the virus.
This is subject to change as the UK Government issues new advice. For up to date information visit GOV.UK
Sharing a home with someone self isolating?
It’s possible that only one person in your family has had close contact with an infected person, or has the symptoms listed above. So how do they self isolate in a shared home?
Current advice is:
- To limit contact with others as much as possible.
- Try to stay more than 2m away from others in the home, and sleep alone.
- Avoid using the kitchen at the same time as others, and eat your meals in your bedroom.
- Clean all household surfaces often, and wash hands for at least 20 seconds often.
- No sharing towels, toiletries or household items.
- Any rubbish generated by the person self isolating should be double bagged.
- The person self isolating should use the bathroom last and clean it thoroughly after use.
Obviously, if you have babies or young children in the house, this advice is going to be very difficult to follow. The only advice in this scenario is to limit contact as much as you can and wash hands thoroughly and often.
Self isolating tips
I’m not a Doctor, just a Mum, but as I’ve already mentioned, I have experience with self isolating to prevent infection. Although it wasn’t due to Coronavirus, it’s still applicable.
1. Distraction, distraction, distraction.
Self isolating is boring, it’s frustrating and it goes against everything we’re used to. And children get bored easily, and often.
It’s a good idea to have a plan of things you’re going to do in a day. Especially if you have school aged children. They are used to keeping their minds and bodies active throughout the day.
Some schools may have sent out work that can be completed online for your children, or provided resources for things to do at home. Use them.
This doesn’t mean that you have to do school work all day every day. But try to stick to a routine during normal school hours if you can to prevent boredom.
At the bottom of this post you’ll be able to download a blank weekly planner and/or one that I’ve filled in with suggestions of what you can do.
2. Water, water, everywhere.
Keeping hydrated is very important. Make sure your children are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Also make sure that they are washing their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds often. Definitely after using the toilet, and before and after eating as a minimum.
Hand sanitiser isn’t as effective as using warm water and soap. Because sanitiser doesn’t clean hands or wash dirt/bacteria/viruses away.
I find that water is a great distraction when children are grumpy too. Whether it’s sticking them in the bath or shower, letting them wash up, allowing them to play with buckets of water in the garden, or making ice lollies or jelly to eat later, water seems to distract and soothe them.
3. Get dressed.
It’s so easy to fall into the ‘pjs 4eva’ rut, but it soon gets boring and confusing. Even if you’re just changing into leggings and a t-shirt, carry on getting washed and dressed in the mornings like you would do on a school day. It helps to break up the monotony of a long period indoors, and gives children a sense of normality.
4. Try to stick to routines
Children are creatures of habit and love routine. They tend to get a bit wild if their day has no direction. So try to plan each day so there is a bit of structure and they know what’s coming next. You don’t have to micromanage every second of the day, but it’s helpful to split it up into activity zones. So morning could be free play, snack, practicing spellings or times tables then lunch. After lunch you could do some arts or crafts, some science experiments that can easily and safely be done at home and then some reading.
5. Utilise technology
There is absolutely nothing wrong with handing your child an iPad, tablet, games console or laptop to play games. Actually, these can be really helpful for your child keeping in contact with their school friends. Lots of online games have facilities for chatting with friends, including free to download Roblox. Just make sure your children are only speaking to their actual friends and not randos they’ve never met.
Lots of schools have subscriptions to things like TimesTable Rockstars, purple mash, scratch, IXL and many others. Twinkl have extended access to their resources to parents too.
All children love baking. Whether you’re making chocolate krispie cakes, bread, cupcakes, pizza or flapjacks, children love to get involved and get messy hands. This is a great activity for using up all those boxes with little bits of cereal left. You can then use the empty boxes for crafting, and the things they bake can be eaten at snack time.
Teaching children to cook from scratch also teaches them about weights and measures, place value, volume and chemical reactions. So supports the science and maths curriculum, but with a tasty result.
There are loads of easy recipes online that you can follow. Or try out my best ever gingerbread recipe.
Self isolating prep
Whilst the whole UK seems to be crazily stock piling toilet paper, go in search of cheap crafting materials instead. Places like Poundland, The Works, B&M, Hobbycraft etc usually have loads. And you can order online if you’re already self isolating.
Search charity shops for cheap toys, books, board games etc and build up a little stock of new things to bring out once total boredom sets in.
You could also use the time to teach your children to knit or sew. Again, you can pick up supplies from charity shops or shops selling crafty things. Use any old or stained clothes for practising stitches or turning into something else.
Buy some bulbs or plants and get your children gardening. Kids love mud. Fact. And gardening. They’ll love seeing the fruits of their labour flowering in the months to come.
Lastly. Don’t panic. After all, it’s just like an extended school holiday. Just with a few differences.